Reuters – Argentina’s inflation rate is expected to rise to 3% in March, a Reuters poll of analysts showed, up from a month earlier even as the government tries to keep consumer prices in check during the coronavirus pandemic and resulting nationwide lockdown.
The rise, which was the average forecast from 12 local and foreign analysts, was driven by increasing food and beverage prices. It was up from 2.0% in February.
“Many supermarket chains eliminated promotions during the last two weeks of the month, while local stores took advantage of the pandemic in some cases, increasing prices,” said Horacio Larghi of consultancy Invenómica.
The poll showed a median increase in prices of 2.7% for the month, with rises ranging from 2.3% to a high of 3.6%.
Argentina is battling to temper inflation in the midst of tense debt restructuring negotiations and as it faces a sharp economic contraction due to the impact of the novel coronavirus. Inflation is estimated at around 40% this year.
The country, which has recorded over 2,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, has been under lockdown since March 20, a measure which will remain in place until at least April 26.
“The higher demand and lower production due to the pandemic naturally pushes prices upwards,” said Natalia Motyl of consultancy Libertad y Progreso, adding that money pumped into the economy to mitigate the virus’ impact could push prices higher.
“We’ll have to pay attention to greater injections of pesos into the economy to cushion the economic effect of COVID-19, which will go directly to the value of the peso and, therefore, to the rise in prices in the coming months,” she added.
Argentina’s INDEC statistics agency is scheduled to release inflation data for March on Wednesday.
Reporting by Hernan Nessi; Writing by Adam Jourdan Editing by Paul Simao